Hey, here's a $100 bill. Got your attention? Hundred-dollar bills tend to be noticed. That's why Pete Fitzpatrick, owner of roofing, siding, and window company P.J. Fitzpatrick, in New Castle, Del., took the liberty of replacing the “C-note's” portrait of Ben Franklin with one of his own to encourage more referrals.

Fitzpatrick's offer to customers is simple: Make a referral that results in an appointment and get $25. If the appointment results in a sale, get an additional $75. The purchasing customer also receives a discount.

REPEAT CONTACTS WORK

Fitzpatrick's currency puts a catchy face on what is actually a highly coordinated program involving the entire company, explains Almena Faux, outside sales and events manager.

Salesmen give homeowners a program brochure when they make the sale. Then on the day installation starts, canvassers remind the homeowner about the program and make preliminary visits to neighbors. Two days later, canvassers return in the evening to set appointments and broaden their canvassing radius. At the final walk-through, installers give homeowners a customer satisfaction survey that includes Fitzpatrick's $100 bill, plus details of the referral program.

Ultimately, the referral program is successful because of repeated contacts from the company and superior customer care. “Our installation process is different from others,” Faux says. “We want people to watch us tear off the roof, watch our process, because it is done so quickly and it is clean.” Using a dedicated cleanup crew, “We make sure we leave the site cleaner than when we got there,” she adds.

BUSINESS BOOST

After attention that amounts to pampering, “customers realize that this company really does care about them and that we are trying to make this process painless,” so making referrals, “is just a natural thing,” Faux adds, noting that multiple refer rals from a single customer are not uncommon.

For the past 10 years, the program has helped the company sustain repeat and referral sales at between 50% and 60% of the yearly total. Now it's helping to maintain level sales, at a time when customer calls are off by about 25% versus last year, Faux says.

“Our business isn't down by that much because we are actively seeking these people by going to their homes and trying to get referrals, rather than waiting for them to come to us,” she adds.